Ways to Improve Marketing Efforts for Businesses, Associations, and Non-Profits
How to Avoid Spray and Pray Marketing
If you are trying to grow your business, increase membership, or attract sponsors, you are marketing. How effective are your marketing efforts? Do you have a current, viable plan, or are you throwing product information into the universe and hoping that someone will call?
Most organizations can improve their marketing initiatives and make better use of their advertising dollars.
Where do we start?
1. Define your product’s buying audience. Yes, that tired old line about knowing where you want to focus your efforts by knowing your target market. Some people claim “Everyone needs my product!” and they are wrong. Everyone is not going to purchase your product. Marketing to everyone means attracting no one.
2. Market to people who can buy what you sell. Someone may want your product, but if they cannot afford to buy your product, they are not the best focus for your marketing efforts.
3. Articulate your product or service differentiation. Product differentiation means lots of suppliers can produce similar products that do basically the same thing, but with enough alternation to make that product slightly different.
Think about all of the people walking down a street. They are all probably wearing different shirts. All shirts have essentially the same function, but the products are different, appealing to their respective owner. Collars, tank tops, polo, tees, button-down, etc. Their job is identical but the products are clearly not.
Cars are all essentially the same – there is an engine and a steering mechanism, and a drink cup holder.
This is product differentiation. Are you Banana Republic or Aeropostle? Are you a Jeep or a Smart Car?
There are buyers for all kinds of products, but trying to sell a Smart Car to an avid fisherman who spends his weekends off-roading is probably a waste of resources.
4. Match your message to your focus. Does your branding match your product? Does your advertising align with your values and deliverables? Create a message that identifies what you do and deliver that message where your buying audience sees, hears, reads and experiences YOU.
Disney does this extraordinarily well. Not only is the magic of the Disney experience in movies, books, costumes, and cartoons, but it is also in games, apps, and a variety of products that have nothing to do with what Disney does. Disney brings Disney magic to everything they touch. They manage to convince 75-year-old grandfathers that wearing Mickey Mouse on polo shirts is cool. And it is.
5. Look hard at how you are represented online. One of the easiest ways to ascertain your message is to understand what people see when they are searching for you. You want your site to be found by people searching for your products or services, but you also want to engage with them and lead them down the path to become a new customer.
Look at your website analytics (hopefully you have those installed). Do you see the most popular pages and which ones hold your visitors’ attention? Is your website on page 1 or on page 8 of an online search?
I interviewed Joe Caston, the CEO of The Great Online (www.greatonline.com) for some tips on what small businesses can do to improve their online presence.
The Great Online specializes in helping companies be found online then helps convert a higher number of web visitors into leads and customers.
Some of Joe’s main points were:
1. Be consistent and focused with your online activities. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Blogging for a month on children’s summer activities is useless if you sell snow skis. Stay focused on what you do best, and make sure that your online information is consistent with what you provide.
2. Look for ways to provide value added. Know that you are the expert in your field, and you have a lot of relevant knowledge that would be interesting to other people that are looking for information. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, don’t only provide information about your services and costs. Think about what type of information a bride would be searching for – checklists, decorating ideas, ideas for photo poses, etc. If you provide a few tips, you’ll be a resource to the bride, and she’ll be more likely to think of you when she’s ready to book the photographer!
3. Capture people who show interest in what you do, but in a helpful, not annoying obnoxious way. If they download information on sales techniques, set up an auto responder to send them a few sales tips. Focus on being a thought leader.
4. Don’t make people think. It’s great to position your site as a place with great information and tips in your industry. But when someone is ready to buy something or contact you – don’t make it hard. Add visual calls-to-action to your site. These can be eye-catching buttons or provocative headlines encouraging them to take the next step.
5. Don’t rely on just your website. Most of your customers will find you on your website if you’re marketing it correctly, but not everyone will. Set up a profile on a few social media sites (or just start with one), and share the blog content, resources, and tips that you include on your website. Encourage your raving fans to connect with you, and they’ll be happy to share your engaging content with their friends. This helps you to get in front of more potential buyers.
It amazes me the number of people who skip step #1 of defining their niche/target market, and that is the most important step!